Being un-Australian

I have a small confession to make. Well, actually, quite a big one, and one that I fear may result in our Australian visas being cancelled and see us ushered onto the first flight out of the country by clench-teethed officials.

You see, despite living here for more than a year. Despite our professed love of the Aussie way of life. Despite our attempts to assimilate into the Canberra community, there’s one thing that marks us out as not quite belonging.

We don’t actually own a barbecue.

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Christmas in the middle of summer

Christmas tree baubles from multiple countries.

Christmas for migrants often means a mix of traditions from several places.

We’re coming up for our second Christmas in Australia and, just like last year, as native Europeans, it’s hard to reconcile the time of year with the weather outdoors. If this feels like familiar ground, then you’d be right – I wrote a post about this ‘Tis the season… except it’s not’, this time last year.

I’m revisiting the point though because of an old newspaper article I chanced across which, I have to say, makes my own uncertainty pale with its agonising over a mid-summer Christmas, and concludes that the only thing to do is to move Australia’s Christmas to 25 June. I kid you not.

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Postcard from Merimbula

A few months ago, I asked the question: where do you go on holiday when you’ve just moved to your dream destination?

Several readers posted great suggestions and a few weeks ago, we had a long weekend away to check out a place that probably outscored other recommendations by about three to one – Merimbula.

Two children run along a deserted beach at Merimbula.

Australia seems like it can offer everyone their own private beach.

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Ask the family: Mrs CBRbound

Of all the family, it’s fair to say that Mrs CBRbound is the most home-loving. And when I say home, I mean Britain, because that’s what it will always be to her. So it was with curiosity and not the occasional lump in my throat that I read her thoughts on our big move and what it has meant to her.

A close-up pic of Mrs CBRbound.

This week’s guest blogger is Mrs CBRbound.

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Ask the family: Mr Pup speaks

A cockerpoo dog.

Mr Pup still shudders when he thinks of his time in quarantine.

The member of the family who had the most difficult journey to Australia was our family dog Mr Pup. The many weeks of quarantine were particularly hard on him, not to mention us. A full year later, I asked him about his first year in Australia and whether the upheaval has been worth it. Continue reading

Ask the family: Our youngest shares his thoughts

In the second of my guest blogs, nine-year old Mini-CBRbound uses his best handwriting to share his thoughts experiences from his first year as a Canberran. It’s not for the faint-hearted, he paints a good picture of deprivation in the early months after our move, but it perks up towards the end. Mini’s participation bribe was an extra hour on the Xbox – I can hear the squeals of excitement from the rumpus room right now.

A boy leans against the side of a bed while filling out a questionnaire.

Mini-CBRbound adopts a curious writing position to share his views of a year in Canberra.

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Ask the family: Canberra through the eyes of a 12-year old

For more than a year now, you’ve been reading about my thoughts and feelings on our move to Canberra. But, as I have mentioned, there are other members of the CBRbound family too, so over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing their views of our move and our new life here in a series of craftily incentivised questionnaires. First up is 12-year old Maxi-CBRbound, who was bribed into participation with the promise of a bowl of snacks.

A boy writing answers to a questionnaire.

Maxi-CBRbound deals with what he termed: “Extra homework.”

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Welcome home

A Qantas Dash 400 aircraft at a domestic gate at Sydney Airport.

The Canberra flight awaits, with Sydney’s international terminal in the background.

I ran. Sydney airport had somehow managed to take 90 minutes to deliver the bags from my inbound London flight to the luggage carousel, where I needed to clear customs before checking them in again for my onwards domestic flight to Canberra.

I dodged the swarm of amblers, greeters and sign-readers on the 500 metre or so walk from International Arrivals to the Domestic Transfers hall. I had imagined it differently – it was almost a year to the day since the whole CBRbound family had arrived via the same route as new migrants. Continue reading

Canberra, city of literature

Four authors sit at a table during a Conflux session.

A panel of authors ready to share their tips at Conflux 11.

As a writer, one of the big attractions of moving to Canberra was the observation from afar that the city had a vibrant creative community and the kind of writers’ networks I could only dream about in Copenhagen.

Over the past few months, I’ve been dipping tentative toes into these waters and have travelled from daunted, to doubtful, to impressed. Continue reading

A sense of permanence

A few days ago, the CBRbound family went to a housewarming party for some friends here in Canberra. The timing of the event was significant in that it both signalled and echoed our own trajectory as new migrants.

Every now and then, you catch yourself saying something and wonder at the significance of it. While this may sound strange – after all, your own thoughts can hardly be a surprise to you – there is something about articulating them that gives them a slightly different form, and allows you to recognise their existence more readily.

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